Good Afternoon Everyone! And welcome to this weeks edition of "Lessons For First Time Parents." This week we will be discussing the topic of long haul car journeys with small babies and why they should be avoided at all costs.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. The May bank holiday was upon us, RTE was for the first time this millenium NOT forecasting rain, showers or any variation of wet, wet weather and dear partner's sister and her boyfriend had a lovely new apartment with plenty of space for the three (four) of us to stay in. Throw in a free night in a hotel and the promise of milkshakes and McDonald's on the car ride out and my pregnant self was very much sold.
Like most fun things we try and do, this journey was not without it's initial setbacks, but after the revival of the car's dead battery we were on our way. The Snot Queen voiced some initial disapproval at being removed from the always entertaining game of "eating dirty things we find in the driveway" and being strapped into the car seat, but five minutes and several cheese straws down the road was snoring away.
We patted ourselves on the backs for our incredible parenting skills and my inspired move of keeping the child awake all afternoon and laughed demonically as we chowed down on greasy fare uninterrupted by grabbing hands and merciless wailing. The road was open and we were on our way!
Unfortunately, what we hadn't taken into consideration was that the Snot Queen's average nap time is 2 hours and Galway is a three hour journey away. Sure enough, an hour or so away from our destination, she awoke.
Luckily, we were just a few minutes away from Eddie Rocket's and Milkshakes so while my darling went in to place our orders (Strawberry for him, Oreo for me, yum!) I crawled into the back seat and stuffed our daughter full of apple juice, yoghurt and even more of the neverending supply of cheese straws I'd baked the day before.
Unfortunately, a full belly was not enough to distract the Snot Queen from the fact that she had now been sitting in the same place for over two hours. She was far from amused and voiced her disapproval.
With fists flailing and her little body straining against the restraints, she wailed her displeasure for all to hear. Her face went from pink to red to puce and tears were quick to follow. The crying escalated from whinging to full blown gasping hysterical in ten seconds flat. Frantically, with a desperation born of being trapped in a tiny space with an increasingingly loud and unpleasant creature, I searched the car for distractions. Anything to make the noise stop.
Board books, ketchup packets, bottles, cups.... All were offered and all were violently rejected. Finally, as a last resort, we began to sing...
And sing and sing and sing. For the remaining hour and a half of our trip, we sang our hearts out as the queen alternately laughed, clapped and bopped along to our tuneless warbling. If we stopped for more then two seconds or chose a song NOT on her approved playlist, she was quick to let us know with a howl that was turned on and off with the flick of a switch.
The eensy weensy spider crawled up so many water spouts I'm surprised the poor bugger never drowned and Old MacDonald's farm grew to include such exotic species as snakes and leopards when we ran out of the more traditional barnyard fare. "Row Row Row your boat" was announced dead in the water and "Bingo" was quickly taken out back and done away with by the farmer at our daughter's bequest.
There was no doubt who was pulling the strings in this puppet show as we butchered just about every children's song and nursery rhyme known to man. In an effort to amuse ourselves we attempted a few more adult numbers but sensing the lack of animal sounds, hand actions and repitition, our top forty show was quickly shut down and it was back to the barnyard for us.
By the time we reached the city, even music (if you can call it that, and trust me, had you heard us that would be the last word that would come to your mind) had ceased to calm her and she was roaring away non stop as we frantically searched for an address we'd never been to in a city we rarely frequented. In the Dark.
However, find it we did and as we released the beast from her prison, her howling stopped, her tears miraculously dried and by the time our hosts came down to greet us was smiling and giggling as though the last hellish hour had never happened and she wasn't the devil's spawn.
Today, as we walk the streets of Galway and bask in the early summer sun, I know I should be enjoying myself more. But somewhere, in the back of my mind, a shadow lurks. As lovely as this weekend may be, all good things must come to an end and come Monday we will be back on the road again.
Does anyone know what sound a giraffe makes?